On-line Guidelines Work-package 6 "Exploitation of results"

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1 On-line Guidelines Work-package 6 "Exploitation of results" This project has been funded with support from the European Commission - Lifelong Learning Programme. This document reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Introduction page 3 2. Raise awareness of disability issues page 4 3. Learning Teaching and Assessment page 4 4. International mobility page 6 5. Career services and employability page 7 6. Conclusions page 8 2

3 1. Introduction EADHE project is a Life Long Learning project funded within the ERASMUS program. It aimed to uncover new knowledge concerning the needs of students with disabilities within higher education institutions and to use that knowledge to produce new and innovative good practices and exemplars to meet those needs. The intention of this report is to highlight recommendations regarding key aspects of providing services to students with disabilities within higher education. The goal is to promote the dismantling of barriers in higher education and in doing so ensure equality of opportunity for diverse groups of students with disability exhibiting different types of needs. The report presents recommendations based on the findings from the EADHE project between 2012 and 2014, relating to what policy makers and other stakeholders should do in order to support inclusion and dismantle barriers in higher education. The intended audience for these recommendations includes the following target groups: Policy makers and stakeholders in national agencies such as research councils, higher education governing bodies, equal opportunity agencies, social security service providers, disabled peoples organizations High-level policy makers and administrators at universities and other higher education institutions, especially those responsible for teaching, learning and assessment, curriculum organization and development and student support services Subject and course leaders at universities and other higher education institutions Individual academics, lecturers and tutors Students The recommendations will contribute towards reducing barriers in higher education for students with disabilities (SWDs) by pointing out strategies to: Raise awareness of disability issues and the needs of students with disabilities in academic communities Improve teaching learning and assessment Improve communication between students/teachers/disability officers Increase international mobility of Students with disabilities Increase awareness of the need for dedicated career services for students with disabilities. 3

4 2. Raise awareness of disability issues and the needs of students with disabilities in academic communities In the interest of widening participation and supporting the inclusion of socially marginalized groups the number of SWDs with heterogeneous arrays of disabilities - both visible and non-visible are increasing. However, to ensure that all students have equal access to the same opportunities higher education institutions (HEIs) find that they must provide adequate, timely, individual-based support services for students with high support needs. This task requires dedicated flexible funding. Although most HEIs provide some services are available, the unpredictable quality and quantity of support creates stress and uncertainty for students dependent on it. Support to SWDs should not rest on administrative staff s sense of commitment or conviction but should be an integrated part of HEIs policy strategy. 1. At the EU-level, policy makers should continue to develop high-level policies on diversity and inclusion in the fields of education, and encourage policy convergence in this area. This is specifically of interest in the area of international mobility for SWDs who are dependent on transferal and transparency in provision of support between sending and host countries. 2. National and local policy makers should monitor the effects of funding mechanisms within HEIs, ensuring they support inclusive practice and provision. 3. Disabled peoples organizations, other NGOs, students, parents and other interested parties should be encouraged to participate actively in formulating policy that affect the quality and quantity of support services. 3. Learning Teaching and Assessment To flourish and gain the knowledge and skills needed for success in a variety of settings, students with disabilities must have more than physical access to university buildings they must have access to educational curriculum and instruction designed to prepare them for life after university. To meet this challenge requires HEIS to consider the following needs of SWDs. The list is not exhaustive but rather provides exemplars of the varieties of needs SWDs may have. Access to technology Reasonable access to communications technology, and other ICTs, including computer technology, adaptive technologies (e.g. assistive listening devices, adaptive computer hardware or software) including new devices that may become available with emerging technology, oral and sign language interpreters, note-takers, readers, transcription services, including, but not limited to, the provision of taped, large print, and Braille materials. When asked to rank the technology that would help them accomplish their study goals, students taking the EADHE ranked (1) digital texts and books; (2) E-learning repositories; (3) Mobile apps and tablet software; (4) speech synthesis software; (5) mind mapping software. With increasing use of ICTs, it is imperative that teachers have training in how to integrate new technology with pedagogy. 4

5 Access to excellent teaching and instruction Effective teaching and learning demands consistent policy frameworks with support for learning for diverse students as their focus. According to results from the EADHE survey, SWDs experienced that they were held to the same academic standards as other students, however they also felt that they faced barriers that hindered them from learning. They experienced that about 27% of academic teaching staff were less willing to help them and that about 38% were unaware of SWDs rights to support and accommodation. Teachers must cope with the additional workload associated with accommodating SWDs but teacher education is not always been organized along inclusive lines with emphasis on widening participation in general or the specific needs of SWDs. All students benefit from HEI policies and practices that maximize their opportunities to learn. Universal design for learning (UDL) is an approach that addresses the needs of all kinds of learners not merely those with a disability. It has proven to be a cost-effective way to address special needs within the general higher education curriculum. The goal of UDL is to design curricula, teaching and instruction that enable all students, to participate and learn together and individually. 1. National government, institutional and organizational level should recognize that education and education systems should be designed to create effective and equitable learning environments for the benefit of all students not merely SWDs. 2. Teacher education programs should ensure that the theoretical and practical aspects of programs prepare new recruits to reflect the principles of inclusion in all aspects of their work. 3. HEIs should encourage the use of universal designed learning and teaching to assure the inclusion of all students in the education process. Use universal design to make classrooms, curriculum, and assessments usable by the largest number of students possible without the need for additional accommodations or modifications. 4. HEIs should ensure that assessment and examination policies, practices and procedures provide SWDs with the same opportunities as their peers to demonstrate achievement of learning outcomes. 5. Make use of the research carried out in this project by piloting and evaluating and adapting the good practices in EADHE Toolbox Access to Mentoring Programs Individuals with disabilities are under-represented in higher education. Many who enter higher education often experience frustrations and barriers that lead to higher than average dropout rates compared to non-disabled students. Dropping out of higher education can lead to low self-esteem, loss of invested time and financial capital and unemployment. One strategy shown to increase the success of SWDs and other underrepresented groups in higher education are mentoring programs. Student that have access to mentoring programs, increase their self-confidence and self- determination, they are more likely to complete their higher education 5

6 program and be successful in making the transition to adult life, including employment and community independence. The EADHE revealed that 31% of students surveyed thought that having a mentor would help improve their study situation and 17% thought that a mentor could help them prepare for examinations. 1. National policy-makers and HEIs should commit to mentor programs and provide adequate funding to support them; this includes training and instruction to mentors, who are also beneficiaries of such programs. The EADHE Toolbox includes exemplars of mentor and peer help programs that could be the starting point for such an initiative. 4. International Mobility Cultural exchange and possibilities to experience different learning environments are as important for students with disability as for other students. Findings from the EADHE project showed that while more than 50% of students surveyed would like to participate in international mobility only 8% had actually done so. There are many barriers to international mobility for students with disability. Some of these are identifiable, measureable and in many cases possible to overcome, but many barriers result from lack of information, anxiety concerning the provision of services at the host HEI and lack of financial resources. Due to the heterogeneity of SWDs and the diversity of their needs, it is of central importance that there are established routines for communicating students needs. Students with disability need concrete information about the programs available. Because of their specific needs students with disability need clear and concise information concerning financing, specific information about the host HEI including support services and accommodations available. 1. HEIs, International Student Offices, Disability Service Centers should inform SWDs about special allowances for disabled people within established EU-funded mobility programs such as ERASMUS+ and other European programs. 2. HEIs should encourage SWDs to participate in international mobility by joining EU initiatives such as Exchangeability, Mapability and Erasmus Student Network. 6

7 5. Career Services and Employability The role of higher education in supporting the employability of students with disability is central. However, many students with disabilities completing higher education have difficulty finding subsequent employment in the profession for which they have prepared. Work experience and contact with the labor market during education provides students with opportunities to show their competencies and gain work experience. This is of specific concern for SWDs as they have fewer contacts in the labor market and are more likely to face negative or excluding behavior from potential employers. SWDs need assistance with planning careers and making the transition from higher education to employment. For example, they often require the transferal of support services from HEI to the workplace. Solving this problem requires cooperation between many different partners, the HEI, employers, social services, NGO s and the student and their family. Findings from the EADHE project showed that although HEIs in the study offered some form of career service, more than 50% of the students surveyed were not aware that their university offered career support. Of those students who were aware of services, the majority did not feel that the extra support they needed was available. Furthermore, only 7% of those surveyed said that their HEI offered them the possibility of internships or job placements before completing their education. 1. At the EU-level, policy makers should make returns to education a priority of labor market policy. 2. National education policy makers HEIs should establish internships for SWDs to help them transition more smoothly to employment. 3. National and local government, HEIs, disabled people s organizations social services and other interested parties should collaborate to ensure that SWDs continue to receive the support services they need when they transition from education into working life. 4. HEIs should assure that career services are available. Services should have clearly defined strategies with the goal of improving the transition from higher education to labor market for SWD s. 5. HEIs should collaborate with labor market partners and disabled peoples organizations to provide internships and work experience for students with disability 6. To combat discrimination anti-discrimination legislation should rigorously enforced at all levels 7

8 6. Conclusions Due to increasing diversity among higher education student population in both their characteristics and their needs various reforms to higher education policies and practices are needed to improve outcomes of all students, including students with disabilities. Regardless of disability status or other classification, research indicates that all students need the same essential educational and developmental opportunities to ensure their success in adult life. However, it is of central importance that people with disabilities, their organizations and other interested parties participate in the formulation of policy strategies that affect them. In higher education discussed in this report, SWDs should be encouraged to participate in all levels of university policy-making. In this respect, we take on the demand expressed by other excluded groups Nothing about us without us supporting the claim that higher education programs should be defined with the learners, not for the learners. Measures taken on the political level be it the European or the member states level - must be in line with the demands of students with disabilities and in support of their dreams and aspirations. 8

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